In this article I would like to share with you the transition Yotam and I went through from conventional hair care to a completely zero waste, home made, natural hair care regime.
I think this process is also a mirror to many other parallel transitions we have been doing in our lives on our way to sustainability, and that our society still needs to go through.
Any step you take on this path is blessed, but knowing that there is more that you can do can help in taking yourself further.
Here are the steps we’ve gone through:
- Green wash — In the shop, choosing shampoo and conditioner that looks, smells and claims to be natural.
- Reading small print — Reading all the ingredients, and learning to avoid chemicals, parabens, SLS and other things where we don’t understand what they mean.
- Choosing organic hair care — In consideration of step 2 above, since not all of the organic shampoos are chemical free.
- Doubting necessities and questioning if I really need this? — At this stage we gave up on conditioners. It is important to know that it takes some time for the hair to balance itself, since it was dependent on moisture from an outside source. But in general, this is a very easy transition. Later we’ve learned that conditioning may increase hair loss.
- Missing the softness — A good natural way to soften your hair or any other fibre for that matter, is to use vinegar. Occasionally we would make an after shower spraying mixture for this soft affect. This is the recipe to be used in a sprayer: 1 third vinegar (our homemade vinegar or a good quality apple cider vinegar) mixed with 2 thirds water, and 4-8 drops of essential oil (we usually choose lavender, patchouli or geranium rose).
- Doubting necessities and some more questioning — The doubts started again; how can it be that we still have to buy these shampoos? In plastic bottles, from a factory, even if they are organic, natural and smell like camellias…. What did people do before shampoo was invented, did they all just have dreadlocks?
- Goodbye consumerism — After doing some research we found our way: herbal teas! This is how it works. We choose our favorite herbs / other plants and make an infusion, then we pour it into a big bowl and add more water. The temperature should be nice and warm, but not so hot that you can’t stick your head in. After the shower we wash our hair in the bowl. Make sure to work it well with your hands and give your scalp a nice massage. That’s it. Warmth melts down the dirt, the hands do the cleaning, and the plants add a nice smell and medicinal properties. Our favorite herbs are sage, lavender, nettles, rosemary, myrtle (which is known to promote hair growth), fenugreek (though the smell is not popular) and chamomile. Sometimes we use leftovers from infusions we drunk earlier that day (no sugar added).
- Design for Catastrophes — Hair tangles. First of all remember to brush, try to do it often, as this makes a big difference. If you missed a few brushes and you are in a situation where there are too many tangles, it’s time to oil up. We use olive oil as our hair mask (which we usually leave on for the night). We do this on emergencies or just for fun every once in a while. This process will soften the hair and make it shine. But it takes more than one shower to get all the oil off, so plan to look wet for a couple of days. We use olive oil since it is local, but coconut oil would be great for your hair as well. In Tibet they use yak butter regularly on their hair, which might be worth a try if you can find a yak.
- Play with it — Once you understand the basic idea, you can find your own concoctions by adding orange peelings, wild herbs from your garden or a dash of vinegar. These are some of the good ideas we’ve heard of.
Important note in conclusion — The way your hair looks is also dependent on your nutritional intake, and reflects your general state of well being. It is affected by the qualities of the air around you and the water you use. So pay attention! There might be other changes you need to take in your life beyond choosing your shampoo. Industrial shampoos often camouflage the message your body is sending you, so moving to natural hair care also helps you reconnect with your body.